Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Directive to Eliminate Prenatal Care
By Abby Johnson, Former Planned Parenthood Director
I attended my last Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) Annual Conference in 2009. I sat in a room with many other clinic directors, all from different states. We were listening to our Medical Services Team list off changes we should expect in the upcoming year. I was surprised to hear that one of the changes involved the elimination of prenatal care. My affiliate didn’t provide prenatal care, but I knew that several affiliates did. I had heard the [Planned Parenthood] Federation boast about its prenatal services when pro-life groups criticized us for the amount of abortions we provided. It turned out that PPFA decided to eliminate all Planned Parenthood Affiliates’ prenatal programs because “the prenatal patients were too cumbersome,” as a PPFA representative stated at our meeting. PPFA representatives went on to explain that women receiving pre-natal care required too many visits, had too many questions, and simply called the clinic too many times.
When this announcement was made, Planned Parenthood had been providing prenatal care with funding from the Title V program. Enacted in 1935 as a part of the Social Security Act, the Title V Maternal and Child Health Program is the nation’s oldest federal-state partnership. For over 75 years, the Title V Maternal and Child Health program has provided a foundation for ensuring the health of the mothers, women, children, and youth, including children and youth with special healthcare needs and their families. Title V converted to a block grant program in 1981. While the Title V program can be used to provide many different healthcare services, Planned Parenthood had always used the program’s funding for prenatal care.
When we compare the amount of funding that Planned Parenthood receives from the various federal programs, Title V provides the least funding. I’m sure when the Planned Parenthood administrative team was looking at eliminating the prenatal program they weighed how much money they would lose, and in turn, looked at the amount of staff time these “cumbersome” patients were costing the clinics. Apparently, the pesky patients lost.
You may wonder just how many patients they are losing due to their loss of prenatal care. On December 27, 2011, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) released its latest Annual Report for 2009-2010.[i] The report showed that Planned Parenthood affiliates provided prenatal care to only 31,098 women. This is a decline of about 25% from the previous year’s report which showed 40,489 received such care in 2009.[ii]
Based on Planned Parenthood’s report, one would assume that 31,098 unduplicated[iii] female clients received prenatal care from Planned Parenthood facilities. That assumption would be incorrect.
Planned Parenthood has developed a strategic way to skew their family planning numbers. Planned Parenthood constantly repeats the claim that “only” 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services involve abortion, while 97 percent of patients receive family planning and other services.[iv] The way they arrive at that number is a gimmick. We can estimate the actual number of unduplicated clients – the actual number of patients seen by Planned Parenthood in a given year but we would never have an accurate number for sure. This is because Planned Parenthood is “unbundling” family planning services so that each patient shows anywhere from 5 to 30 “visits” per one appointment (i.e., when Planned Parenthood gives a woman 12 packs of birth control during her appointment, it charts this as 12 “visits”). Each patient “visit” (in reality, service provided) then accounts for a separate “patient,” padding that “97 percent family planning” number. Of course, Planned Parenthood does the opposite with abortion visits, “bundling” them together so that each appointment (no matter how many services were provided) equals one “visit.” The resulting – and wholly manufactured – difference between family planning and abortion “visits” is intentionally striking.
We now see the same thing with their prenatal clients. Over a nine month period, a prenatal client could incur a significant number of “visits” because Planned Parenthood counts every service provided during any given appointment at Planned Parenthood as one “visit.” Every ultrasound, every lab test, every office appointment – the services pile up, creating a new patient and a new “visit” for each service provided. If we look at Planned Parenthood’s 2009-2010 report, those supposed 31,098 prenatal visits could have realistically been provided for less than 100 patients.
A possible 100 patients provided with prenatal care compared to 329,445 abortions. Nevertheless, whatever Planned Parenthood’s number of prenatal clients served in the past, soon those approximately 100 patients will drop to zero. Planned Parenthood has made its priorities clear. When it comes to babies, Planned Parenthood is only interested in aborting them.
[i] See http://issuu.com/actionfund/docs/ppfa_financials_2010_122711_web_vf?mode=window&viewMode=doublePage (last visited Oct. 12, 2012).
[ii] See http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/PPFA_Annual_Report_08-09-FINAL-12-10-10.pdf (last visited Oct. 12, 2012).
[iii] An unduplicated client in this context is a patient who is only counted once, regardless of how many services she receives, or office visits she makes.
[iv] See http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/planned-parenthood-glance-5552.htm (last visited Oct. 11, 2012). See also The Joy Behar Show: Planned Parenthood Changing Plans? (HLN Feb. 21, 2011). Video available at Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood & Rep. Gwen Moore on Joy Behar, YouTube (Feb. 22, 2011) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I82QY65sVSA&feature=player_embedded (at 3:36) (last visited Oct. 11, 2012).